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MBA Stories: The holiday season and spirituality

By William-Horton Anderson
Monday, December 18, 2023

In the winter months of November and December, there are many spiritually connected holidays that contribute to a person’s perception and experience of the season. For many individuals, their spiritual education and identity has guided how they live and experience their life: what careers they pursue, how much time and effort they put into friendships or relationships, how they make life decisions and much more.

In this Q&A, four current Full-Time MBA and STEM MBA students discuss their identities, their experiences and important religious holidays that have guided them on their journeys to Michigan State.

Pratyusha Malhotra (she/her/hers)

Pratyusha Malhotra headshot

Pratyusha Malhotra (STEM MBA Supply Chain Management and Marketing ’25)

Hometown: Lucknow, India

Celebration: Diwali, which lasts five days; dates change every year

Broad News: What is Diwali, and what does it mean to you?

Malhotra: Diwali, traditionally known as the festival of lights, holds a unique significance for me, primarily revolving around my family, firecrackers and food! The core of this celebration for me lies in the moments spent with my parents and grandparents, fostering strong bonds and creating treasured memories.

Broad News: What do you think is the most pressing issue Indians or Asians are facing outside the business community?

Malhotra: I feel discrimination, stereotyping and biases are still some of the most pressing issues that Indians or Asians face outside the business community. This could be in the form of microaggressions or implicit biases.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive to Indian/Asian individuals?

Malhotra: People should not be put in boxes; rather look at each person’s talent and uniqueness, beyond bias and stereotypes. Give time to understand people and their thought process. Communication is different in different cultures, and sometimes be mindful that the conversations are not lost in translation. Raise awareness about the issues to create a more inclusive society. Cultural sensitivity training, resource groups, inclusive leadership and decision making, and community engagement are few methods to address the challenges.

Jordan Emmer (he/him/his)

Jordan Emmer headshot

Jordan Emmer (MBA Marketing and Business Analytics ’25)

Hometown: Michigan, USA

Celebration: Hanukkah, Dec. 7–15

Broad News: What is the historical origin of Hanukkah, and what does it commemorate?

Emmer: The historical origin of Hanukkah is rooted in the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid King Antiochus IV, who had outlawed Judaism and desecrated the Temple. After the Maccabees successfully reclaimed and purified the Temple, they found only enough oil to light the menorah for one day, but miraculously, it lasted for eight days. This event is central to the celebration of Hanukkah, which typically spans eight nights and involves the lighting of the menorah, the playing of games and the exchange of gifts.

Hanukkah is often referred to as the Festival of Lights, with the lighting of the menorah serving as a central symbol of the holiday.

Broad News: Can you describe a traditional Hanukkah celebration?

Emmer: Families will get together and light the menorah. We will exchange some personal gifts as well have grab-bag gifts. It’s special to me because it’s a time for families to get together, eat some good food and relax.

Broad News: What is one thing we should understand about the Jewish faith and beliefs?

Emmer: Like all religions, it’s just about being a good person and respecting your neighbor.

Nathan Feldpausch (he/him/his)

Nathan Feldpausch headshot

Nathan Feldpausch (MBA Marketing ’25)

Hometown: Michigan, USA

Celebration: Christmas, Dec. 25–Jan. 5

Broad News: What is Christianity? What does Christmas mean to Christians?

Feldpausch: Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born to the virgin Mary. Jesus fulfilled the law that was originally established with Moses so that all people could be in right standing with God. Jesus lived the perfect life that no human being could and was crucified on the cross to atone for all of mankind’s sins.

Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, where hewas laid in a manger. I believe Luke 2:1–21 describes the Christmas story best. The excitement around Christmas is rooted in the truth that salvation is available to every person as long as they believe in Jesus Christ and accept him as their Lord and Savior. God sent his son in the flesh to establish closer intimacy and relationship with his creation. That act is a resounding testament to God’s radical and immeasurable love for all people!

Broad News: How does practicing Christianity influence your life?

Feldpausch: If anyone asks me who I am, I say, “I am a child of God.” That is the most important identity that I hold before all else. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. In the Bible it says that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6–7). God comes first in my life. God is my first love and focus. All my decisions come from a place of desiring to be close to God. Every day of my life is spent with the intention of falling more and more in love with God and gaining a deeper revelation of how much he loves me and all his creation.

Broad News: What is one thing we should understand about the Christian faith and beliefs?

Feldpausch: That there is an unconditional love that exists for every single person, and that love is found in Jesus. It is a love that you cannot and do not have to earn. All you have to do is accept, believe and profess that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, and your life will be forever changed (Romans 10:9–10). God is merciful, good and faithful even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:11–13). There is nothing more worthwhile than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Amy Brothers (she/her/hers)

Amy Brothers headshot

Amy Brothers (MBA Supply Chain Management ’24)

Hometown: North Carolina, USA

Celebration: Christmas, Dec. 25

Broad News: Why do you celebrate Christmas, and what makes it special for you?

Brothers: Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is a special time for my family. It is a sweet time of gathering together to reflect on God’s precious love towards humanity — to all nations. We celebrate the promise and covenant that was made for us, through the birth of Jesus Christ.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’”
— Luke 2:8–12

Broad News: What is one thing we should understand about the Christian faith and beliefs?

Brothers: After seeing much of the turmoil that’s happening with the war in Gaza and Israel, it is to remember that we are all connected. What impacts one impacts another. There’s more that connects us and makes us alike versus different. I believe that we are all puzzle pieces that carry a story in time and rich in history, that makes up a diverse people, a holy nation, whose principles are based on living lives of integrity, with love toward God and humanity.

Being a Christian is living in God’s truth. Not that we get to live a self-induced lifestyle where we live how we want, do what we want whenever we want (that’s a mess!). In essence, we ask God to help us with love, self-control (discipline), kindness, forbearance, goodness, joy, peace and faithfulness. The scriptures are clear as to what God honors. Having a true relationship with God is understanding how he wants us to respond to his love. If we love Him, if we truly love Him, then we make every effort, through every decision, to learn his heart and expressing our love by living our lives according to his Word.

“God give us eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to obey.”

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